Time: 6:30PM – 9:00PM
Location: Below Gross Dam in the area of the pedestrian bridge on the Walker Loop Trail.
Thursday was intended to be a day of rest after three straight outings on my recent camping and fishing trip. Imagine my surprise, when I checked my phone and noticed a text message from my son, Dan. He planned an after work visit to South Boulder Creek and asked, if I was interested in joining. Opportunities to fish with Dan are rare, as he is engaged to be married, in the early stages of a career, and the proud owner of a new puppy dog. Fatigue, aches and rest suddenly became secondary considerations, and I quickly agreed to join Dan at the kayak parking lot at 6PM. Of course I also took a peek at the stream flows on South Boulder Creek, and I was pleased to see that they were steady at 151 CFS for the last four days. 151 CFS is higher than I prefer, but I knew from past experience that it was manageable.
I arrived fifteen minutes early at the parking lot that already contained five other vehicles. I got a jump on preparation and donned my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight, while I waited for Dan’s arrival. A bit past 6PM he appeared with two Snarf’s submarine sandwiches in his possession. We made quick work of the Italian sandwiches, and then we descended the steep trail to the creek below. At a wide area shortly after encountering the stream, we crossed to take advantage of the easier hiking trail along the opposite shoreline.
Since we only had a few hours of daylight, we decided to allocate more time to fishing and less to hiking, so we began our quest for trout twenty yards below the first pedestrian bridge. Dan initiated his fly fishing adventure with a size 16 stimulator with a dark brown or maroon body. I selected a size 14 gray stimulator from my fly box and tied it to my 5X tippet. I began the evening with some downstream casts to a deep eddy at a large bend in the creek, and Dan meanwhile cast to some very enticing slower moving runs along the bank.
The trout in the eddy below me showed no interest in my attractor fly, but a nice ten inch rainbow attacked Dan’s high floater, and we celebrated his initial success. We spent the first hour familiarizing ourselves with the higher flows, and where the trout were holding. We discovered that the faster runs did not produce, and the fish were concentrated in the slow moving pools along the bank. Within these locations they frequented the seams along faster water and sheltered lies next to large boulders.
After 7:30 we progressed above the pedestrian bridge and cherry picked the spots that conformed to our stream criteria. We were both frustrated by evening glare and our inability to follow our flies, so we independently switched to a Chernobyl ant and trailed a dropper nymph. I chose an emerald caddis pupa, since I observed adult caddis, as they danced along the surface of the water. Dan and I both foul hooked a rainbow trout, when we reacted to a refusal to the Chernboyl and embedded the hook of the trailing nymph in the reluctant feeders.
By 8PM I failed to land a fish, but I was content to give my son first shot at quality spots. I had my fill of fishing success during my recent road trip, and I was genuinely content to enjoy the cool evening, while Dan took advantage of some sorely needed mountain time. I was now above the bridge in an area with numerous huge boulders and below a nice smooth pool. Dan approached from below and executed some nice casts to the lower portion of the run, where the creek swirled around several large exposed boulders. I suspected that the fish in this area inhabited the narrow lanes, where the current passed between the three large boulders, so I lobbed the dry/dropper to the current seam above rock number two. I could barely see the chartreuse indicator on the foam ant, and then it disappeared in a bulge, and I raised my arm and felt a connection to a nice eleven inch rainbow. Although I was content to be an observer, I must admit I was surprised and pleased to notch a fish on the scoreboard.
As darkness slowly descended, Dan and I migrated to the tail of the long and popular pool a bit upstream. Other anglers vacated the popular spot, so I assumed a position near the tail. A jumble of long logs angled across the stream bed to create the lower pool, and just above them a huge area of foam suspended between the logs and the bank. I paused to observe, and I was pleasantly surprised to note three subtle rises just above the foam. One exposed boulder was positioned fifteen feet above the foam patch, and suddenly another rise appeared five feet below it. I followed the path of the feeding fish, and noticed a very respectable rainbow, as it settled back along the sandy bottom.
The Chernboyl and caddis pupa were still on my line, so I delivered five drifts over the upper fish below the rock, but the target displayed no evidence of interest in the Chernobyl or pupa. I elected to reconfigure to a dry fly, but before doing so, I caught Dan’s attention and invited him to join me. Upon his arrival, I pointed out the rising fish, and he began the task of converting to a single caddis as well. Just enough light remained to allow me to thread the leader through the eye of a small size 18 caddis adult, and I was finally in a position to cast, while Dan continued his conversion.
The scene that ensued was an example of why I love fly fishing. I made three downstream drifts toward the fringe of the foam patch, where I observed several rises earlier. I was having difficulty locating the small tuft of deer hair in the waning light, but on the third cast I picked it up quite clearly. I checked my fourth cast high and the deer hair caddis fluttered down in the subtle current seam above the foam, and a foot above the white blanket of bubbles a mouth appeared and gulped down my impostor. Dan saw the entire episode develop, and I quickly lifted my arm and connected with an eleven inch cutbow. The South Boulder Creek gem displayed a brilliant crimson cheek and a pink-red stripe, and it was truly a jewel in the wild.
I released my prize, and Dan was now prepared to prospect the area of rising fish with his caddis. He demonstrated some excellent casts and drifts and extracted two aggressive surface feeders from the area. The trout were quite diminutive, but he was nonetheless pleased to earn a level of success, as darkness rapidly descended. We expected to quit at 8:30, but 9PM found us returning on the path to cross at the wide section, and then we warmed ourselves with a steady ascent of the steep path to the parking lot.
Dan and I both enjoyed 2.5 hours of evening fishing on Thursday, and a couple wild trout were icing on the cake. A ninety degree day transformed into a pleasant cool evening, and we both gained insight on fishing South Boulder Creek at elevated flows. Best of all I spent a few precious hours with my son, and I always treasure such an occasion.
Fish Landed: 2